Joseph McGurl has been referred to as one of the acknowledged leaders in the current American landscape school. This has been confirmed by his inclusion in several important museum shows and his successful relationship with some of the country's leading galleries. Additionally, he has been the subject of numerous book and magazine articles, and he conducts workshops and presents lectures throughout the country.
Joseph was born in Massachusetts in 1958. He grew up working with his father, James McGurl, who is a muralist and his most influential teacher. He graduated from Massachusetts College of Art with a dual major in painting and education. He also studied in England and Italy. After college, he worked for a period of time as a yacht captain, sailing the east coast from Maine to the Caribbean. In search of a more solid training in drawing, he sought out Robert Cormier, a devotee of the French Academy methods, and for two years he studied figure drawing under him. Joseph synthesizes academic figure drawing skills with sight-size landscape painting resulting in a new and unique approach to addressing the landscape.
Joseph's paintings are often considered as philosophical extensions of the 19th century Luminist painters. However; his interest in modern physics and the nature of reality combined with the spirituality found in nature has resulted in a thoroughly modern approach to style and subject. He is one of the few contemporary realists who does not, for philosophical reasons, include the use of photography in his art. For Joseph, the creative process, rather than the product, is the most important aspect of his painting. He is a devoted plein air painter which allows him to connect with the landscape on a profound level and gain a deep understanding of his subject. Rather than relying on photography, this method gives him the freedom to create paintings based on his imagination, memory, and observation. Although the objects depicted in the paintings are elements of the landscape and have a deep, personal meaning to him, of equal importance is an exploration of light, form, space, and color interpreted through paint.
Mr. McGurl's paintings have been included in several museum exhibitions in Massachusetts, New York, California, and Rhode Island as well as being exhibited in numerous group museum exhibitions which travelled throughout the country. He has had retrospective solo shows at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, The Cahoon Museum of American Art, and the Saint Botolph Club of Boston. The Arnot Art Museum's Representing Representation, a survey of the most significant representational work being done today, included his work as an example of contemporary landscape painting. McGurl has been designated a Living Master by the Art Renewal Center in New York. He has been elected to the Guild of Boston Artists and was a Copley Master with the Copley Society of Boston, a fellow with the American Society of Marine Artists, and is a signature member of the prestigious Plein Air Painters of America. His awards include the Guild of Boston Artists Gold Medallion, The Art Renewal Center First Place Landscape and Purchase Award, and the John Singleton Copley Award for Artistic Achievement.